It's been a while since just simply peeled and absolutely unprocessed coffee beans were roasted using fire. And in the process, a fundamental technological shift took place, which we are extremely proud of. Coffee happened because of it the most sought-after food in the world, millions of people cannot imagine a single day without its taste and effects. These technological advances also open the door to a world of flavors and creative methods of coffee preparation for all of us. The path of the coffee bean is not entirely simple and it takes some time before it reaches your cup. You can read about 4 other coffee processing methods on our blog. And this is another one of them, however completely different and completely unique. This is a processing that uses thermal shock to reveal all the possible flavors hidden in kernel of the grain. It is a particularly young and very creative way to get the most out of the coffee cherry.
Diego Bermundez found a way to modify the flavor profile of coffee by using the microorganisms that live in it and using the pores of the bean. In this procedure, intensive is given emphasis on fermentation, which is really thought out. Diego also has the technology to carry out fermentation except coffee beans and to use the power of bred microbial cultures, which is completely unheard of. The process of fermentation and multiplication of microorganisms is then followed by a thermal shock, which helps bring all the flavors to the surface of the coffee bean. In this article, we will tell you how it is possible and introduce you to the entire unique process by which Diego processes coffee beans.
How does coffee taste after thermal shock?
It is incredibly intense and fragrant. In its taste you can discover strong floral notes, fruity flavors and a fresh summer pungency. With this processing method, the coffee will be unique and unforgettable. But it is not for everyone. If you like your espresso bitter and earthy, this would not excite you. This coffee is more suitable for lovers of alternative coffee preparation methods. It will be loved by everyone who likes to discover new tastes and scent.
1. Collection and sorting
This is the first necessary point in all coffee processing methods that we know. Start of harvest. Only the ripest fruits are collected. Often even the overripe ones. Diego, who invented this method, claims that the longer the cherry is in contact with the grain, the more juicy flavor will get into the resulting cup. In addition, his farm is located near the equator, high in the Colombian mountains. The climate there is very constant, lower temperatures prevail. This contributes to the slow ripening of coffee plants, which leads to richer formation of sugars in fruits. Sugar is particularly important for fermentation. Diego Bermundez and his crop have all the prerequisites to make this unique and timeless method, which we will now describe to you in detail, a success.
The harvested crop from the Colombian farm is thoroughly cleaned of impurities and passed through a flotation tank where ozone is allowed to bubble through. This properly disinfects the cherries and reduces the number of microorganisms so that the fermentation can adapt to each batch. After that, the cherries are sorted according to size, ripeness, and the bad pieces that we don't want to process are selected from the whole, so that they don't affect the quality of the batch. These remaining groups are loaded into stainless steel bioreactors and rinsed carbon dioxide. This is how they prepare for fermentation.
Fermentation begins due to lack of oxygen in closed containers. Diego claims that this instills more aromas into the beans. This is because the cherries break down during this step and release their juices, which are key to the correct completion of the entire process. In this procedure, all parts of the coffee fruit are used to the maximum. The vast majority of the flavor of the grains therefore comes from the decomposed cherry.
2. Culture creation
The next step is selection of cultures for fermentation. During his career, Diego and his team have already obtained many valuable groups of microorganisms suitable for influencing the taste of coffee beans. They even created an entire library of them from which flavor profiles can be selected. And this is the one fundamental difference between coffee processing using thermal shock and other methods. In the case of those classic procedures, you only work with the given grains and their natural taste. The thermal shock together with the intensive fermentation allows the coffee to inhale an extra flavor, which is not usual, and that's it thanks to cultures of microorganisms, which are added to the fermentation.
The selected culture must first be properly propagated and then placed in the juice created from the previous step. Cultivated microorganisms thus help with thorough fermentation in the bioreactor, where it is produced many chemical reactions and this creates a rich flavor profile of the resulting coffee. It should be noted that this step takes place separately from the coffee beans. These are only juices from cherries, the benefits of which are then placed in the grains with the help of a thermal shock. Meanwhile, the grains are waiting for their opportunity.
A team of experts thoroughly monitors and analyzes the events in the bioreactor during the entire fermentation period. It measures pH, temperature, carbon dioxide and alcohol levels as well as the number of all possible bacteria. Fermentation needs to be turned off at exactly the right moment. Once the fermentation of the cultures in the juice is complete and brought to perfection, the grains are stripped of their pulp and placed in a tank where the final fermentation step occurs. This one is the longest. He can last up to 120 hours. During this entire time, the tank is stirred evenly so that as many aromas as possible get into the coffee beans and they are all treated equally. That's what it's all about. The grains must resonate with each other, the taste of a single piece must not deviate from the line under any circumstances.
3. Thermal shock
This completely special process consists in rapid heating of the liquid, i.e. juices in the reactor, and subsequently violently cooling of grains. It sounds trite, but it definitely has an important meaning. Diego discovered that by heating the temperature of the juices in the containers to 40 degrees Celsius, he can achieve the opening of the pores of the coffee cherries, just like the skin does for example. The grains will logically begin to absorb even more flavors and aromas. The sudden cooling of the coffee beans closes the pores again. Therefore, they are removed from the heated juices and immediately rinse in cold water. That way, the grains really leave a maximum of flavor palettes.
According to Diego, this is also very important. This is because it takes place in dryers with cold carbon dioxide and moisture is removed using nitrogen. Oxygen is not present here at all. It would only do harm. Oxygen in general is not good for coffee. Grains lose their flavors and other properties because of it, so it is generally recommended to store it in containers that do not allow fresh air to enter.
But this drying is gentle in several ways. Thanks to the absence of warm or hot influences during drying, the coffee structure is not damaged, which some cultures providing a delicious taste might not survive. Among other things, coffee dried in this way stays fresh much longer.
Diego did not choose a simple process, but we have no doubts about it, as it is unprecedented and very unique. It is guaranteed to be worth it and his farm has all the skills to do so. You can smell many fruity flavors and summer notes in the resulting cup of coffee. But the method of roasting also decides a lot. After this long process, the processed grains are deported to the roasters, where they are already put into the final form that you all know.
If you have the opportunity to taste coffee processed by this method, you should definitely not refuse. There is not much of it, Diego's farm is not endless, and since the whole process is very dependent on the sugar content of the cherries and therefore also the location of the coffee plants, this method of processing will probably never become more widespread. That's why it will always be like this rarity, so take the first opportunity and enjoy Diego's exceptional coffee Colombia - Finca El Paraiso with an interesting flavor profile in which you can look forward to notes of cotton candy, rum pralines, wild strawberries and fruit jelly.